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Conversations on Europe. "Transcultural Aesthetics and Inscriptions of the Artist: Self-portraiture in Nineteenth-century Istanbul"

Thursday, November 10, 2011
12:00 AM
1636 International Institute, 1080 S. University.

Ottoman cultural history in history of Orientalist painting.

Mary Roberts, The John Schaeffer Associate Professor of British Art. University of Sydney.
Abstract: In the same period that increasing numbers of European painters travelled to Istanbul, the first generation of Istanbul’s Paris-trained Ottoman artists returned to the city with ambitions to reshape the visual arts within their capital. Significant collaborative networks developed as these artists received the highest levels of patronage from the Ottoman court. There was, however, no simple shift from an Orientalist to an Ottoman cultural agenda. These artistic exchanges are interesting precisely because of the varied ways cultural boundaries were renegotiated through differing alliances between Muslim and non-Muslim Ottomans and visiting or expatriate European artists. In this lecture Roberts will explore the value of inserting this Ottoman cultural history into a history of Orientalist painting through a focus on self-portraits by three artists from this milieu: Osman Hamdi Bey, Seker Ahmed Pasa and Fausto Zonaro. In a category of representation where maker, subject, and beholder are co-implicated, and in which reflections on the very processes of art making are central, self-portraiture is a particularly fascinating site from which to address questions about the aesthetics and politics of cross-cultural engagement.